NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2020

Contract talks break off between the Blues and Alex Pietrangelo, the Wild won’t re-sign captain Mikko Koivu, an update on Steven Stamkos, the Penguins re-sign Jared McCann, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported contract talks between the St. Louis Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo have broken off, with the Blues advising the 30-year-old defenseman to pursue unrestricted free agency.

Pietrangelo told Dreger contract discussions haven’t gone the way both sides were hoping. Unless something changes, it’s in the best interest of both sides for him to test the market.

Dreger colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if the Blues would be willing to trade Pietrangelo’s rights before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9. “If so, what is the draft pick that gets it done?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports sources said a recent Blues offer to Pietrangelo had an annual average value of $7.7 million, though it’s now believed to be $8 million. He’s willing to accept less than market value (believed to be $9 million AAV) but is concerned over the structure of the deal, such as term, no-movement clause, and a signing bonus in the final year of a long-term deal, guaranteeing Pietrangelo a cash payout in the event of a buyout.

While there’s still time for the two sides to work things out, it appears the Blues are willing to let Pietrangelo walk if he gets a better offer via the open market. The door could be open to both sides resuming discussions if he doesn’t find anything to his liking. Nevertheless, if I were a Blues fan, I’d be resigned to Pietrangelo playing with another club next season.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild won’t be re-signing long-time captain Mikko Koivu. The 37-year-old center spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Wild. It’s unclear if he’ll sign with another club. He’s previously indicated he’s not interested in playing for a different NHL team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears retirement beckons for Koivu. The wear and tear of his long career caught up with him over the last two seasons as he slid down the Wild depth chart, skating on the fourth line. I think we expected the Wild would part ways with Koivu, but it’s still a little sad to see the end of an era and the potential end of a long, productive career.

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois remains hopeful Steven Stamkos could return at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Lightning captain won’t suit up for Game 1 tonight against the Dallas Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos has been sidelined with what’s believed to be a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training in July. He’s resumed skating but there’s still no timetable for his return.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed center Jared McCann to a two-year contract worth an annual average salary of $2.94 million. McCann was the subject of recent trade rumors but this new contract turns down the heat on that speculation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann could still be traded now that he’s carrying an affordable contract for the next two years. Nevertheless, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford re-signed him with the intent of keeping him in the lineup for at least next season.

TSN: The Washington Capitals re-signed winger Daniel Sprong to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $725K.

Cap Friendly published a list of upcoming important dates on the NHL calendar. Among the noteworthy timings:

The first contract buyout period begins on Sept. 25.

The deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is Oct. 5.

The 2020 NHL Draft will be held Oct. 6 and 7, with free agency beginning at noon ET on Oct. 9.

No-movement and no-trade clauses for 2020-21 also take effect at noon ET on Oct. 9.

The deadline for player-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Oct. 10.

The second club-elected arbitration window begins 5:01 pm ET on Oct. 10 to 5 pm ET on Oct. 11.

Arbitration hearings will be held from Oct. 20 to Nov. 8.

Nov. 12 is the last day for teams to exercise their walkway right and the last day for the second buyout period.

TSN: Rick Westhead cited executives from several NHL sponsors telling him talks for 2020-21 deals presuppose teams will at least play in bubbles of some sort. The NHL and NHLPA hope to avoid this but cross-border travel and crowds at indoor arenas are unlikely for many months. Westhead said NHL team sponsorships in many markets hang in the balance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Money will ultimately decide when the NHL returns to action next season and in what form. The league and the PA might not have much choice but to return under some sort of bubble.

There’s been talk of seeing purely divisional play, or having all the Canadian teams play each other while the American-based clubs would face each other based on regions, followed by more bubble hockey for the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. The league could be closely watching how MLB and the NFL have handled travel during their respective schedules.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

The Wild trade Eric Staal to the Sabres for Marcus Johansson, Canadiens re-sign Joel Edmundson, and the latest on Brayden Point, Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Clifford and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild traded center Eric Staal last evening to the Buffalo Sabres for center Marcus Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a straightforward one-for-one swap with no salary retention by either club. Cap Friendly indicates Staal, 35, has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million. He has a 10-team no-trade list but the Sabres reportedly weren’t on it. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Staal was stunned by the news.

Johansson, 29, also has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million AAV. He’s a versatile forward (when healthy) who can play center or on the wing. However, he managed just 30 points in 60 games last season as a center with the Sabres. Staal netted 47 in 66 contests.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin made no secret of his intentions to shore up his depth at center. Last week, he acquired center Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, I don’t see the trading away Staal for Johansson as an improvement.

Staal may be older but he was more productive than Johansson, who seems better suited for the wing. Guerin’s recent re-signing of Jonas Brodin has sparked speculation he’s shopping defenseman Matt Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center.

The Sabres, meanwhile, are reportedly going to set an internal cap of $70 million for 2020-21. Shedding Johansson for Staal shaves $1.25 million off their payroll. He’ll play a second-line role behind Jack Eichel and perhaps help out in a leadership role.

Speaking of the Wild, StarTribune.com’s Sarah McLellan reported Guerin said it’s unlikely pending free agent center Alex Galchenyuk returns. He also declined to comment on the future of captain Mikko Koivu, who’s also a pending UFA.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed Joel Edmundson to a four-year, $14-million contract extension. The Habs acquired the 27-year-old defenseman last week from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.5 million, making Edmundson an affordable, physical addition to the Canadiens’ defense corps. The deal also comes with a 10-team no-trade list for all four seasons.

Adding Edmundson provides experienced depth on the left side of the Habs’ blue line. It’s also sparked suggestions Brett Kulak or Victor Mete could be packaged in a deal for a scoring forward. The Habs now have over $10.2 million in cap space invested in 19 players for 2020-21.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point’s status for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final remains uncertain. Point missed the previous game with an undisclosed injury and didn’t practice yesterday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn’t know if Point will be available but remains hopeful he’ll be in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning lost both games Point missed due to injury.

NEW YORK POST: The return of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk provided a big lift for the New York Islanders in their Game 5 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. Boychuk returned to action for the first time since being sidelined in the opening game of the qualifying round against the Florida Panthers.

TORONTO SUN: Agent Todd Reynolds said client Kyle Clifford will be testing the unrestricted free agent market. The 29-year-old left wing was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings last February. If Clifford doesn’t re-sign with Toronto, the Kings will receive a third-round pick from the Leafs.

THE SCORE: The St. Louis Blues announced former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be joining them as an assistant coach on a two-year deal. He’ll replace Marc Savard, who stepped down earlier this month.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are expected to make interim head coach Bob Boughner their full-time bench boss.

TSN: A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against North America’s most powerful hockey leagues (including the NHL, AHL, and the Canadian junior leagues) alleging conspiracy to limit opportunities for young players. The suit was filed by Kobe Mohr, who played in the WHL from 2015 to 2020.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins president Jack Kelley died Tuesday at age 93. Kelley was the Penguins president from 1993 to 1998. He was also inducted in the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 and the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelley’s family and friends.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2020

Islanders get their first win of the Eastern Conference Final, Nathan MacKinnon wins the Lady Byng Trophy, the Penguins trade Nick Bjugstad to the Wild, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brock Nelson’s tie-breaking goal late in the third period powered the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third before Nelson scored and Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted the insurance goal. Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves for the win.

The Lightning leads the best-of-seven series two games to one. They were without two regulars in this contest. Winger Alex Killorn served a one-game suspension for boarding Nielsen in Game 2. Center Brayden Point was unfit to play following an undisclosed injury in Game 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Isles to avoid falling behind 3-0 in the series. It appeared the Lightning were going to pull off a come-from-behind victory but the Isles proved their mettle in this one. Their top-six forwards led the way with Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier each netting a goal and an assist while Josh Bailey collected two assists.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is this year’s winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best displays sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability. He took just five minor penalties during the regular season while finishing fifth in points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded Nick Bjugstad last night to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2021. The 28-year-old center has a year remaining on his contract. Cap Friendly indicates they’re retaining $2.050 million of Bjugstad’s $4.1 million salary-cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired by the Penguins from the Florida Panthers in February 2019, Bjugstad was frequently sidelined by injuries, limited to just 13 games this season. He’ll get a chance to get his career back on track in his hometown next season. This is a salary dump by the Penguins as they attempt to clear some cap space, perhaps for other offseason moves.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner rejected a report yesterday claiming he and the Golden Knights agreed to a five-year, $25-million contract back in June. “Yeah, well, it’s not true,” said Lehner. “You know, you have some talks and kind of (discuss) where you’re at, what you want to do. Nothing has been finalized.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report might not be true but Lehner seems to suggest his camp has had some discussions with Golden Knights management. We know Lehner seeks stability after bouncing from Buffalo to the Islanders to the Blackhawks to Vegas since 2018. Perhaps he’ll find it with the Golden Knights. If so, that will only stoke speculation about Marc-Andre Fleury’s future with the club.

The 2020 NHL Draft will be held virtually from Oct. 6 and 7. The first round begins at 7 pm ET on Oct. 6, with rounds 2 through 7 taking place the following day beginning at 11:30 am ET. Broadcast times to be determined.

The NHL free-agent market opens at noon et on Friday, Oct. 9.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed defenseman Sean Walker to a four-year, $10.6 million contract extension. The annual average value is $2.65 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable move by the Kings. As the report observed, Walker’s blossomed into a speedy, productive two-way blueliner. He’ll be a key piece of their rebuilding roster.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 11, 2020

The latest on Matt Murray, Taylor Hall and Phillip Danault plus updates on the Jets and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON MATT MURRAY

TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cites Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater claiming Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is going to be at the top of the Colorado Avalanche’s wish list. He felt goaltending was a big factor in the Avs’ second-round elimination from the playoffs. Dater said the Avs like Murray’s age (26) as he’d fit into their template of building with younger players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports Avs general manager Joe Sakic intends to stick with his tandem of Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz for next season. He cited their strong regular-season performances and didn’t fault them for injuries that sidelined both during the playoffs. Francouz played hurt in the second round until making way for Michael Hutchinson.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports being told the Penguins and Edmonton Oilers have had discussions about Murray but the asking price (first-round pick?) is too rich for the Oilers. He believes Edmonton will be patient with the goalie search and hasn’t ruled out bringing back Mike Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the flooded market for goalies in the coming offseason there’s no reason for the Oilers to bring back Smith. Time to go with a younger option.

SHOULD THE PREDATORS PURSUE HALL?

THE ATHLETIC: Adan Vingan reports a league executive told colleague Scott Burnside last month the Nashville Predators would make sense as a landing spot for Taylor Hall. The Arizona Coyotes left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

In examining the pros and cons, Vingan observes the cost of signing the 28-year-old Hall could be in excess of $8 million. The Predators have around $9.3 million in cap space and enough money already tied up in players in the late-20s and early-30s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And that, folks, is why I don’t see Hall landing in Nashville in the offseason.

COULD THE CANADIENS KEEP DOMI & TRADE DANAULT?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman telling Buffalo’s WGR 550 that he thinks the Canadiens will look at the trade market for Max Domi and Phillip Danault. With the latter saying he’s not crazy about his situation where he’s the No. 3 center, Friedman thinks there’s a chance Danault could be traded before Domi. He feels Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is open to anything.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I won’t rule anything out. Nevertheless, I think it’s more likely Domi gets moved before Danault. The latter is a year away from UFA eligibility but Bergevin could stick with him for next season and see how promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi develop before deciding on Danault’s future.

Speaking of Domi, his future in Montreal depends upon his contract talks with Habs management. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

LATEST ON THE JETS

WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck feels it would make sense for the Jets to trade winger Patrik Laine only if they feel they can’t afford to re-sign him long-term. The same can be said if the return is too good to pass up. “But rarely do deals featuring big-name stars result in both sides walking away with their heads held high.”

Billeck also feels a Laine trade will depend upon which direction the club wants to go. They cannot continue with their current make-up. They’re currently a scrappy team that relies on their goaltending to bail them out, which isn’t a recipe for a Stanley Cup contender.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils should target Laine and what it would cost to land him. He acknowledged the Devils could use a skilled sniper like Laine and have the cap space to afford him. However, he doesn’t believe the Devils can afford the asking price, which would include parting with center Nico Hischier as part of the return. The Jets are built to win right now and won’t be interested in picks and prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine, 22, is a restricted free agent next year with arbitration rights who will seek a big raise over his current $6.75-million annual average value. That will factor into whatever decision the Jets make, but I believe they intend to keep him.

What the Jets need is a good second-line center to play alongside Laine, as well as improvements to their defense corps. Sportsnet’s Ken Wiebe suggested Anaheim’s Josh Manson, Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen, Calgary’s T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic as possible targets to address their blueline needs.

WHAT DOES THE OFFSEASON HOLD FOR THE FLYERS?

PHILLY.COM: Sam Carchidi reports Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher sounded as though he’d look toward his farm system to improve his roster. “I don’t think we have to do anything necessarily in the free-agent market or the trade market,” said Fletcher. “We have some holes we have to fill. Certainly we’re going to have to supplement some of the core pieces we have right now.”

Fletcher acknowledged his club’s need for another goal scorer. However, he pointed to the Flyers’ young players. “We have a lot of good kids coming,” he said, singling out those who got a taste of NHL action this season like Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Connor Bunnaman.

Carchidi points out the Flyers have over $72 million invested in 15 players, leaving little wiggle room for additions.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall also weighed in on Fletcher’s end-of-season comments. He also pointed out addressing the Flyers needs won’t be easy given the league’s current economic climate. Hall noted Fletcher indicating the Flyers have to manage their cap properly to ensure they can re-sign their young players two or three years from now.

NHL.COM: Adam Kimelman observed Fletcher indicating he’ll be looking to improve his roster, but it won’t be through free agency over the next couple of years. “We’ll be working the phones to see what we can find on the trade front,” said the Flyers GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher won’t be going the UFA route to address his club’s needs. He’ll look at the trade market but he’ll also promote from within.

If he does swing a deal it’ll likely be a dollar-for-dollar swap or something as close to that as possible. He does have depth in prospects and draft picks to use as trade bait, but as Fletcher pointed out, he has to ensure he leaves enough long-term cap room to re-sign those promising youngsters down the road.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 10, 2020

Golden Knights reportedly talking contract with Robin Lehner, plus the latest on the Bruins and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

REPORT: GOLDEN KNIGHTS HOLD CONTRACT TALKS WITH LEHNER

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jesse Granger believes the Vegas Golden Knights intend to sign goaltender Robin Lehner to a long-term contract extension. He cites sources suggesting discussions between management and the Lehner camp might have already begun. Lehner, 29, is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million next season, the Golden Knights only have $6.375 million in cap space. $3-$4 million of that could be taken up re-signing restricted free agents Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins. Granger estimates it could take a five-year deal at $5 million annually, possibly more, to keep Lehner in the fold.

Re-signing Lehner could mean parting ways with Marc-Andre Fleury, who has two years and $14 million remaining on his contract. Granger feels Fleury’s relationship with management has soured since Lehner’s acquisition at the February trade deadline. They could retain part of his cap hit to trade him, though he carries a 10-team no-trade list. They could also buy out the remainder of Fleury’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what transpires, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Lehner is re-signed and Fleury traded or bought out. That’s been percolating in the rumor mill for some time, especially when Lehner got the bulk of the starts in the playoffs. It went to a full boil last month after Fleury’s agent tweeted an image of his client with a sword through his back and coach Peter DeBoer’s name on the blade.

Lehner or Fleury could draw the attention of the Colorado Avalanche. The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers suggested the Avs could pursue either goalie if they become available.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins general manager Don Sweeney intends to explore ways to improve his club between now and the start of the free-agent market on Oct. 9.

The toughest decision could be deciding whether to re-sign Torey Krug. Haggerty believes the Bruins would love to keep the 29-year-old pending UFA defenseman, but he doesn’t feel they’re in a good enough salary-cap place to do so.

Haggerty speculates Sweeney could look to within to bolster his lineup by promoting Trent Frederic and Jack Studnicka into full-time roles next season. Making room for those two could mean moving out a winger like Jake DeBrusk. He’s a restricted free agent due for a significant raise but also an inconsistent scorer who managed just two points in 10 playoff games last month.

Haggerty wondered if Sweeney might consider shopping David Krejci. The 34-year-old center has one year left on his contract with an annual average value of $7.25 million who can be dealt to half the teams in the league based on the no-trade language in his contract.

Sweeney also said the Bruins have no reservations about goaltender Tuukka Rask after he opted out of the playoffs for family reasons. Rask and backup Jaroslav Halak both have a year left on their contracts and it appears the Bruins plan on continuing next season with their current goalie tandem. Sweeney pointed out Rask is up for the Vezina Trophy this year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Krug seeks over $7 million annually, he’s probably played his final game with the Bruins. He’s indicated he’s not taking a hometown discount or a one-year deal. Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy reports Sweeney said the two sides “haven’t found a landing spot yet.”

The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa (subscription required) also suggested DeBrusk could be a trade chip. However, he felt defenseman Brandon Carlo was more likely to move because he didn’t play up to his capabilities in the playoffs. However, if Krug departs I doubt they’ll trade away Carlo.

As for Krejci, his age, cap hit and modified no-trade make him difficult to move under the current economic conditions. He could be traded, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still suiting up with the Bruins next season.

UPDATE ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe reports sources around the league have spoken with Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford regarding defenseman Kris Letang. However, this isn’t uncommon and there’s no indication Letang is being actively shopped.

Yohe also reports all indications suggest the Pittsburgh Penguins will trade goaltender Matt Murray. Rutherford had little interest in moving goalie Tristan Jarry. The Penguins GM is willing to move center Jared McCann and perhaps Nick Bjugstad, though Rutherford isn’t opposed to keeping him. He also doesn’t sound interested in moving defenseman Jack Johnson.

TSN: Darren Dreger isn’t sure the speculation about Letang is legit, pointing out his agent said his client doesn’t expect to be moved. Dreger acknowledged the 33-year-old defenseman might still be traded, but it’s not his expectation. Other Penguins who could hit the trade block include Johnson, Patric Hornqvist, and Zach Aston-Reese.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation yesterday claiming Letang was expecting a trade, but now his agent says otherwise. Damage control, perhaps? Or merely some confusion emerging from multiple sources on Letang’s status. Whatever it is, it seems likely Rutherford was talking to other clubs about the veteran blueliner but doesn’t appear close to considering a trade.

No one’s surprised Murray is the most likely of their two goalies to move. He’ll be more expensive for the Penguins to re-sign plus he’s also struggled with injuries and consistency over the past two years.

Hornqvist has a $5.3-million AAV through 2022-23 but his full no-trade clause becomes an eight-team no-trade list at the end of this season. He’s 33 and his style of play frequently leaves him banged-up but his experience and gritty style around the net could be enticing to other clubs.

McCann could also draw some interest. Bjugstad’s been hampered by injuries the past two years, appearing in 64 games last season and just 13 this season. That will put a damper on his trade value.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 9, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 9, 2020

Could the Penguins trade Kris Letang? Are the Blackhawks trying to re-sign Corey Crawford? Could Wayne Simmonds join the Leafs? What’s the latest on the Canucks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE PENGUINS TRADE LETANG?

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Rob Rossi reports Kris Letang would like to retire as a Pittsburgh Penguin but feels the club could try to trade him. Neither ownership nor management feels the club would be better without Letang and the return of Todd Reirden as an assistant coach could benefit the 33-year-old defenseman.

Nevertheless, Rossi cites multiple team sources saying Letang expects to be traded. League sources claim Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford was gauging the market value of the veteran blueliner but he’s not actively shopping him. Rutherford reportedly confided to associates that the right thing is for Letang, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to retire as Penguins-for-life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t dismiss the possibility of Letang getting traded, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s suiting up with the Penguins next season.

Letang’s contract won’t be easy to move. He has two years remaining on his contract worth $7.25 million per season. He also has an 18-team no-trade list and a no-movement clause preventing him from being demoted to the minors. The flattened salary cap for 2020-21 will also affect his trade value.

I don’t fault Rutherford for exploring the trade market to see what’s out there for Letang. He probably doesn’t think he’ll find a suitable deal but it doesn’t hurt to consider that option. Maybe a club on the blueliner’s list of preferred trade destinations makes an offer too good to pass up.

BLACKHAWKS MAKE OFFER TO CRAWFORD

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks are believed to have offered Corey Crawford a one-year contract worth around $3.5 million. The 35-year-old goaltender is an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford’s completing a six-year, $36-million contract worth $6 million annually, but he knows he’s not getting that much for an annual average value again. The netminder is also aware of the Hawks’ cap constraints. Maybe he takes the hometown discount on a one-year deal, especially if that $3.5-million offer is the base salary for a bonus-laden deal.

SIMMONDS EXPRESSES INTEREST IN JOING THE LEAFS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports Wayne Simmonds believes the Toronto Maple Leafs are a team where he could have an impact right away. The 32-year-old winger is a UFA on Oct. 9 and spent last season split between the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres. He recently moved his family north of Toronto and spends a lot of time in the city.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simmonds also indicated he’s open to everything as free agency approaches. “Whoever wants to choose me, I’ll be waiting. I’ll definitely be ready to go,” he told LeBrun. He’s also aware of the cap constraints facing the Leafs and other teams for next season.

Injuries hampered Simmonds’ performance over the past two years, limiting his effectiveness as a power forward. Still, he could be an affordable signing for clubs seeking veteran grit and leadership. Maybe a cap-strapped club like the Leafs comes calling.

THE LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports re-signing goaltender Jacob Markstrom is the top priority for Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning. It’s believed the Markstrom camp seeks over $6-million annually while the Canucks are believed to have countered with $5.5 million per season.

Re-signing Markstrom could affect the rest of the roster. Johnston also points out the Canucks are unlikely to keep Markstrom and promising goalie Thatcher Demko in next year’s expansion draft.

Johnston also reports Jake Virtanen could be shopped in the trade market. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, but with Benning hoping to re-sign pending UFA winger Tyler Toffoli, Virtanen would be demoted to third- or fourth-line duty. Benning indicated they’ve been patient with Virtanen but was expecting more production from the winger, especially in the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With $64.4 million invested in 16 players next season, a deal worth over $6 million annually for Markstrom will bite deeply into the Canucks’ remaining cap space. So will a new contract for Toffoli.

Trading Virtanen would allow money that would’ve gone to him be put toward re-signing Toffoli or another player. However, Benning still must shed salary to absorb new contracts for Markstrom and Toffoli and leave sufficient room for other moves.

Benning’s reportedly attempted to move winger Loui Eriksson ($6-million annually through 2021-22) without success. Brandon Sutter ($4.35 million) could be another trade candidate. The Canucks GM might get some wiggle room if Micheal Ferland ($3.5 million AAV through 2022-23) starts the season on long-term injury reserve, but he’ll have to make cap room for Ferland’s return.